By Maria Leon
PHOENIX – The head-on fight against weapons trafficking along the border with Mexico is one way to weaken the drug cartels, according to U.S. attorneys general assembled at their national convention on Wednesday.
“The United States has increased its efforts to halt the flow of weapons toward Mexico,” Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told Efe.
“The weapons are used by the cartels to carry out violent acts and try to arouse fear in the communities and the authorities in Mexico,” Goddard said during the convention of the National Association of Attorneys General, or NAAG, which brings together representatives of more than 30 U.S. states and which will conclude on Thursday.
Part of the initiative is the intense campaign that federal and state authorities are conducting via advertisements to alert people to the penalties they face if they buy firearms from third parties.
Also, the inspections of automobiles and other vehicles entering Mexico at the border crossings have been increased.
“Crimes linked to drug trafficking, undocumented immigrants and drugs equally affect the communities on both sides of the border,” the Arizona AG said.
According to statistics compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, more than 90 percent of the weapons that arrive in Mexico illegally come from the United States.
Meanwhile, Francisco Molina – the representative of the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, or PGR, who is participating at the meeting – said that during the fight against the cartels in his country authorities have seized more than 28,000 weapons, more than 5 million rounds of ammunition and more than 3,000 hand grenades.
The U.S. AGs and prosecutors praised the work that the government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon is carrying out against the drug cartels, which operate mainly in the border zone.
In the judgment of New Mexico AG Gary King, an important element has been the cooperation accords between the two countries permitting authorities on both sides of the frontier to share information rapidly and accurately.
“Without doubt, weapons trafficking to the south of the border is one of the most serious problems we face,” King told Efe.
He said that part of the combat strategy must be to continue the training of federal and state officials and agents in both countries.
Although the main states where weapons are purchased are those that border on Mexico, this type of trafficking is a problem that also affects the U.S. interior. EFE